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Why Sisters Make Us Happier

Researcher Deborah Tannen gave an explanation yesterday in The New York Times for the recent studies that say having sisters makes us happier.

The usual explanation is that women talk about feelings more, which should make their siblings feel happier and more supported.

But she points to her own studies that show feeling-talk doesn’t matter, it’s just the act of talking that counts. Girls may be more likely to talk frequently, and simply being in contact with someone (even just keeping them company when you’re not explicitly talking about their emotions or how they’re doing) is good for people’s health and happiness.

Thalia A-M Bruehl wrote a really lovely piece about family size for Babble yesterday that touches on how sisters bring happiness to the family. Bruehl was 13-years-old when her family adopted a 19-year-old girl, so she has the unique perspective of knowing what it’s like to be an only child, and then to have a sister come into her life.

Having been on both sides of the only child versus siblings debate, how many kids does she say she wants for her own family in the future?

The high side of only childhood, Bruehl says, was the one-on-one time with both mom and dad — nights out on the town with just her mom, or random moments like catching hail in red plastic cups with her dad — times when she and only she held their attention.

But she says groups of threes are difficult, and adding another person to the family made it so that everyone always had a partner: her making dinner with mom while her sister and dad watched golf.  When her parents were together, she had a playmate.

She’s clear on this – she wants a nice, round family of four.

Image: Babble


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